Circular Electronics? World’s Leading Companies Launch First Private Sector Alliance To Reduce Waste Across Industry

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Recently, leading electronic brands including Dell Technologies, Google, Microsoft, Vodafone, and global organizations set up the first-ever private sector alliance for circular electronics along with a vision and roadmap committing to a circular economy for electronics by 2030.

The global Circular Electronics Partnership (CEP) is the first time business leaders and global organizations have come together to design circular solutions for electronics.

With electronic brands worth nearly $6 trillion in total market cap, the alliance includes leading brands like Accenture, Cisco, Close the Loop, Dell Technologies, Glencore, Google, KPMG International, Lanxess, Microsoft, Security Matters, Sims Limited and Vodafone.

These companies have been brought together by convening organizations including the World Economic Forum (WEF), Global Electronics Council (GEC), Global Enabling Sustainability Initiative (GeSI), Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy (PACE), Responsible Business Alliance (RBA), and World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).

The vision and roadmap were developed together with other stakeholders, including the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). 

Presently, e-waste is the fastest-growing waste stream in the world, at nearly 50 million tons. Another research showed that only 17.4% of e-waste is collected and recycled.

Worth at least US$57 billion annually, managing e-waste and shifting to circular electronics offers a huge opportunity for several countries to boost their economic growth. To achieve this, massive stakeholders are required to work together and develop system-wide changes.

CEP’s vision aims to maximize the value of components, products and materials throughout their full lifecycles by utilizing safe and fair labour that only relies on circular resources.

In a press release seen by Green Queen, Managing Director of the World Economic Forum, Dominic Waughray, said: “There’s no time to waste in finding sustainable solutions for consumption and production. The roadmap and vision set forth by the Circular Electronics Partnership will create the necessary momentum to maximize resources, transform value chains and make the circular transition in electronics a reality.” 

Source: World Economic Forum

There’s no time to waste in finding sustainable solutions for consumption and production. The roadmap and vision set forth by the Circular Electronics Partnership will create the necessary momentum to maximize resources, transform value chains and make the circular transition in electronics a reality

Dominic Waughray, Managing Director of the World Economic Forum

The CEP partnership includes the following action-plans:

  • Defining circular electronic product and services; 
  • Mobilizing a global, sustainable and circular procurement commitment;
  • Developing a responsible recycling and circular material data system;
  • Piloting two material track and trace projects;
  • Commercial financing mechanisms for increased collection.

President and CEO of the WBCSD, Peter Bakker said that as electronics are omnipresent, a new approach is critical.“Far beyond just computers, monitors and phones, electronics are commonly found in everything from clothing to toys. As applications scale, they should be circular in design, production, use and recovery to create a nature, climate and people positive value chain. WBCSD is proud to host the CEP and we look forward to implementing the Roadmap with our Partners and the biggest companies in electronics.” 

Along with the partnership, the group launched an action road map that identifies six pathways to circularity and will focus on various stages of the value chain to enable businesses and partner organizations to overcome any obstacles they might face making the shift to circularity.

As applications scale, they should be circular in design, production, use, and recovery to create a nature, climate, and people positive value chain

Peter Bakker, President and CEO of the WBCSD

Vice President of Product Development Engineering at Dell Technologies, Michael Murphy said that since creating its first OptiPlex desktop with recycled plastic in 2007, the company has been on a mission to drive innovative approaches to accelerate the circular economy. “It’s why we set an ambitious goal to get to 50% recycled or renewable materials across our entire product portfolio by 2030. But as an industry, we need to move faster. This is why the Circular Electronics Partnership is so important – to drive collaboration and eliminate roadblocks to make bigger strides in circularity.”

In October of last year, East African nation Rwanda decided to take matters into their own hands and manage e-waste effectively through a newly laid-out Rwanda’s National e-Waste Management Policy that provides for the enactment of specific legislation for management and disposal of e-waste to safeguard human life and the environment. The framework also includes offering financial benefits to individuals who collect e-waste from the community and bring it to the plant for recycling.

The United Nations report also revealed that in 2019, only a tiny fraction of the 53 million tonnes of e-waste gets recycled representing a huge economic loss, with US$10 billion in precious metals hidden in the mountains of trash, and the figures also show a 21% increase in just five years, with China and the U.S. on top of the list.


Lead image courtesy of ATC/Pexels.


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